The Law Society has recently warned about the risk to cohabitees if either partner dies without having made a will.
In these circumstances, the deceased’s assets are likely to go to their children, estranged wives or husbands or, in the absence of close relatives, the government. Their surviving partner, meanwhile, may be left with nothing.
The risks involved were thrown into sharp relief by the well-publicised case of a bereaved woman, whose long-term partner had not updated his will.
When Norman Martin died suddenly of a heart attack, his share of the couple’s three-bedroom home passed to his estranged wife.
His partner, Joy Williams, subsequently took the case to court and although the Judge ruled in her favour, she had to endure around four years of uncertainty.
The Law Society has pointed out that an up-to-date will would have meant that Ms Williams would have been spared a considerable amount of stress.
President Jonathan Smithers said: “This case is an important reminder for unmarried couples to make sure they have a valid and up-to-date will, and to seek expert legal advice regarding any co-owned property, if they intend their current partner to inherit upon their death.
“Making a will is extremely important. Solicitors have the necessary qualifications and training to address the often complex issues associated with drafting a will and can help ensure that your estate is left to those who you wish to inherit after your death.”